Annabel sat on the bumpy dorm room bed with her legs loosely crossed in a limp pretzel formation as she rested her round chin on a stuffed gorilla she had laying up against the wall. She squeezed the soft animal in her arms a little harder, as if tightening her hold around it would eventually force the lifeless plush to reciprocate the gesture. But alas, the embrace was not returned. Sitting next to her was her cracked phone playing music from a playlist that was titled with a sad face emoji. She wondered why people had a tendency to listen to "sad" songs when they were already sad. Didn't that just reinforce and exacerbate the sadness? Why didn't people listen to "happy" music so that they might feel better? She let the thought float inside her mind for a moment or two before deciding that the former was better. If, at this very moment, her suitemate Caroline had started blasting "Everything is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie," which would undoubtedly echo through the walls of their shared bathroom (as she had the daily routine of doing when she showered), Annabel would probably have an aneurysm. And so she concluded that perhaps people didn't listen to sad music to feel better or worse but that it was simply better than being flooded with overzealous lyrics about how great life was when clearly it was not. She may still be sad but at least her arteries would remain intact.
Annabel didn't bother to change out of her a-little-too-tight-for-comfort jeans and itchy purple sweater into her "dorm clothes," which consisted of sweatpants she bought online a couple sizes too big and a cotton T-shirt that was equally large. Maybe she would feel better if she was more comfortable, but maybe that was the point: maybe she didn't want to feel better. Of course, she did want to feel better...but she didn't at the same time? It was all very confusing. What she did know was that there was something familiar and even serene about sitting in her own sadness as she had been doing these past few nights. And so perhaps she could take some comfort in that. Annabel let the plush she had been holding fall limply onto the bed as she turned to rest on her side to face the door across her bed. She stared at it for a while as the image of her mother and herself materialized before her. It had only a couple hours before that the two of them had stood in that very spot wrapped in each other's arms, neither of them wanting to let go. "It's so hard..." she had said. And to that, her mother replied, "I know, sweetie," as she gently stroked her daughter's back.
It was all Annabel needed, really: to know that she would always have someone who understood. Isn't that what anyone wants? To know that there is someone out there who can feel our hardship as we feel it and tell us how strong we are for relentlessly fighting our way through it? To tell us we are doing the best we can and that that is good enough? That it will always be good enough? That they are so proud that we are good enough? She continued to stare at the image set before her as tears started to well up in her eyes, either from the persistent melancholy feeling in her chest or the fact that she had not blinked for a couple of minutes now. She shut her eyes and let the tears fall into the folds of her neck, and she kept them shut, silently praying for something she had been wishing ever since she left home: that tomorrow would feel better and eventually so would she.